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the house with chicken legs artwork

all about theatre 5 star review

The House With Chicken Legs is based on Sophie Anderson's 2018 children's novel of the same name, it has been adapted for the stage by Olive Lansley and produced by Les Enfants Terribles.

The story is very loosely based on the Slavic folklore of Baba Yaga a cannibalistic witch like character who guards the fountains of the water of life and lives in a house with chicken legs.

In the play however Baba Yaga is portrayed as a kind and caring Grandmother who guards the gate to "the other side" and helps the dead cross over and return to the stars.

The house with chicken legs production photo

The play is told from the perspective of Marinka (Eve De Leon Alleen), a 12 year old girl who lives with her Grandmother Baba Yaga (Lisa Howard), Baba Yaga is teaching Marinka the ways of a Yaga so that she can take over from her one day and help the dead cross through the gate. Marinka and her Grandmother live in a Yaga house, a house which holds a gateway to the afterlife (a gateway to the stars). Yaga houses have legs as they have to move around to prevent the living from finding the gate. With the house constantly moving Marinka never gets to stay in one place too long so isn't able to make any friends her own age, she finds the life of a Yaga lonely and longs for a normal life where she can have friends. One day a ball bounces in to Marinka's garden and a young boy comes to retrieve it. Marinka talks to the boy and they become friends, they plan to meet the next day and hang out but when Marinka wakes the next morning she finds that the house has moved on. This only affirms Marinka's feelings that she does not want to be a Yaga and guard the gate, she wants a life of her own. So when Baba Yaga has to accompany a weakened soul through the gate Marinka will stop at nothing to try and get her back as not only can she not come to terms with the loss of her grandmother but she also does not want to become her successor.

The house with chicken legs production photo

When I first walked into the auditorium and saw the amazing set design by Jasmine Swan it really got me excited for the show. The set of the Yaga house was fantastic, it was very detailed with illustrations on the exterior of the house like that seen on traditional Salvic houses. The inside of the house was colourful and looked nice and cosy with lots of trinkets on a sideboard a rocking chair and an oven where Baba Yaga would cook a meal for the dead to give them strength to move on to the afterlife. At the back of the stage was a large screen which showed projections from video designer Nina Dunn, these projections would show the landscapes of the places the house would travel to. it was also used to show a swirling vortex for when the souls would travel to the afterlife.

The sound design by Alexander Wolfe worked in harmony with the projection imagery to crate the movement of the house, the drumming used worked perfectly to reflect the houses footsteps as it ran.

The house with chicken legs production photo

The costumes designed by Samuel Wyer were beautiful, they were colourful and looked like they had been inspired by traditional Slavic dresses.

The show also made use of puppets which were also designed by Samuel Wyer, the puppet used for jack the Jackdaw was beautifully detailed & his movements were very lifelike. Marionette type puppets were also used when the characters would tell a story from the past, I thought this was a beautiful way to portray these stories. The set, costumes, projections, lighting and puppetry all together made this a visually stunning piece of theatre.

The songs featured in the show are great there are some really catchy ones as well as some slower ballads and all worked really well in moving the story along.

The house with chicken legs production photo

The show has a small cast of six and all did an absolutely fantastic job, all the cast with the exception of Eve De Leon Allen (who plays Marinka) play multiple roles and they did this with ease slipping between characters seamlessly and even using different accents for there different characters. This exceptionally talent cast however did not just play multiple roles but the also played multiple instruments live on stage.

The House With Chicken Legs is a coming of age story about finding yourself, it has wonderfully endearing characters and deals with subjects such as loss and grief, it is definitely a show with a lot of heart. This visually stunning production has some magical moments and is a great family show, I had a fantastic time and can't recommend the show enough definitely a five star show for me.

The House With Chicken Legs is running at Leeds playhouse until Saturday 16th September 2023

you can purchase tickets by clicking on the button below.

If you would like more information about the show you can find it by clicking on the button below.

Photo Credit - Andrew AB Photography and Rah Petherbridge

Running time - 2 hrs 35 mins including interval (approx)

Age Guide - 9+

*Our tickets for this show were kindly gifted in exchange for an honest review

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